Every year in the National Football League, wide receivers step up seemingly out of nowhere to become pivotal players for their team. Sometimes a player shows up for the first time after moving up a thinned-out depth chart, takes advantage of a retirement, trade or un-signed free agent departing his current team. Others still venture into the free agent market to land a more prominent role with a new team. Here is a look at some break out wide receivers in 2018:
Albert Wilson, Miami Dolphins
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Chad Williams, Arizona Cardinals
Mack Hollins, Philadelphia Eagles
Cody Latimer, New York Giants
Break Out Wide Receviers Heading Into 2018
After spending four years with the Kansas City Chiefs, Wilson signed a three-year $24 million-dollar deal with the Dolphins. With his former team in Kansas City, Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce were the primary targets with Wilson a mere afterthought. In Miami, he should have more opportunity to play. Miami’s Davante Parker is the number one wide receiver going into the season, but he is often injured and has consequently underperformed for most of his career. Wide receiver Danny Amendola and Kenny Stills will be Wilson’s only threat to win the starting spot opposite Parker. Amendola is often injured, and Stills does not have the contract the Wilson just signed. Expect Wilson to see significant playing time.
Lockett has demonstrated his talent in the NFL previously but never established any consistency playing behind both Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson. With Richardson now playing for the Washington Redskins, Lockett should see more consistent opportunity. Lockett has some statistics to give Seahawks fans hope for a bright future, such as his career average yards per catch of 13.3. Lockett is explosive, so scoring from long range is a distinct possibility. Seattle will have to outscore their opponents to win this year. That bodes well for Lockett.
Arizona said goodbye to receivers John Brown and Jaron Brown in the offseason, which provides Williams with a chance to show what he can do. Williams was a third-round draft choice by the Cardinals in 2017. With his high draft capital value, Williams seems destined to have a chance to win a spot alongside Larry Fitzgerald. Rookie wideout Christian Kirk will see some action as well.
Hollins had a reasonably quiet rookie year in 2017 with just 221 yards receiving. He has excellent size at 6’4”, 221 lbs. and good speed to match. Hollins also had an appealing 14.1 yards per catch in 2017, so there is a reason to believe that he could earn a more significant role. The receivers ahead of him on the depth chart are the oft-injured but talented Alshon Jeffery and the streaky Nelson Agholor. The lack of an elite one-two punch means there is a high probability that Hollins will see more playing time. He’s also got a year of the Eagles’ offense under his belt now, which should make it easier for his coaches to put him on the field.
Latimer was mostly invisible when he was with the Denver Broncos for a couple of reasons. Buried in the depth chart behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, Latimer played mainly special teams. Also hampering Latimer was the fact the Bronco passing attack over the past two seasons had not been very consistent due to unimpressive quarterback play. Latimer signed with the Giants in the offseason and could take a prominent role in the offense. Odell Beckham, Jr. and Sterling Shepard will be the number one and two guys, and tight Evan Engram will see his share of targets. In three-wide sets, there should be some opportunity for Latimer to show what he can do. Keep in mind that health has always been a concern for both Beckham Jr. and Shepard, so there may be some hidden targets waiting for Latimer there as well.
Whether buried on the depth chart or signed to a new team, these wideouts have a great opportunity ahead of them this year. Each of them should see significant playing time provided they have good camps and stay healthy. As talented athletes, this season is their moment to break out and become quality starters in the NFL.
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